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Nirav Modi's extradition: Fugitive diamantaire likely to appear on March 29 via video conference


London, Mar 25: After being denied bail and lodged in the Wandsworth prison in London, Nirav Modi, wanted by the Indian authorities in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraud case, is likely to appear before the Westminster Magistrates Court on March 29 via video conference, said reports.

File photo of Nirav Modi

Diamantaire Nirav Modi, an accused in Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case, was arrested in central London on March 19 after the Westminster Court issued a warrant against him. He was arrested from Holborn metro station in London and produced before the court on March 20.

District Judge Marie Mallon, who presided over the hearing, rejected Modi's bail plea and noted "there are substantial grounds to believe that you would fail to surrender before the court if bail were to be granted". He has been lodged in the Wandsworth prison in Southwest London ever since.

London Court rejects Nirav Modi's bail plea, to stay in jail till March 29

On March 29, formal hearings in Nirav Modi's extradition case would begin.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing the case for his extradition to face the Indian justice system on behalf of the Indian government, had strongly opposed bail because Modi had "deliberately evaded justice" and not returned to India despite a series of criminal summons issued by Indian courts.

During the March 29 hearing, which is refered to as "case management hearing" in the legal parlance, Nirav Modi's defence team is likely to seek bail again. Nirav Modi's legal team is headed by Barrister George Hepburne-Scott and his solicitor, Anand Doobay, is the same legal expert hired by former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya, said reports.

Nirav Modi fled the country in the first week of January last year. Then in February 2018, his passport was cancelled by the India. Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the Rs. 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank scam involving fake guarantees in the name of the state-run lender to secure loans overseas.

Earlier this month, the 48-year old Nirav Modi was seen walking on the streets of London by a reporter of the British newspaper The Telegraph.

While the ED was accused of inaction, the agency clarified that no such formal or communication was received by the ED from UK authorities in March, 2018 or at a later date, informing that Nirav Modi was in the UK. The ED added that the National Central Bureau of Manchester, the nodal agency of the UK for dealing with Interpol notices and cooperating with other countries, had instead asked Indian agencies to "provide it" with intelligence inputs that suggested Modi was in the UK.

Before Nirav Modi's arrest, how ED, CBI worked behind the scene

The extradition request for Modi could only be sent after a chargesheet was filed against him, which was done by the agency in May last year.

The ED obtained a fresh NBW against Modi from a Mumbai court after filing the chargesheet and sent it to the Interpol, which notified the "red warrant" for arrest against the fugitive diamantaire on June 29 last year, and subsequently, a fresh request for extradition was sent to the UK government, the agency said. He was tracked down to a three-bedroom flat occupying half of a floor in an upscale tower block of luxury apartments, where rent is estimated to be around £17,000 a month, the newspaper reported.

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